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“Don’t Know How To Love You” by Haley Reinhart is a Retro Wonderland of a Tune

Haley Reinhart is a soul goddess. In the midnight hour of a Thursday, this iconic songstress drops a brand new original tune called “Don’t Know How To Love You” that makes a fine musical food for the mind, body and soul.

From the first listen, this song gives me that cool Duffy vibe reminiscent of her songs like “Syrup and Honey”, “Warwick Avenue” and “Endlessly” from her two records Rockferry and Endlessly, but it still remains distinctive and authentically Haley. The beautiful lyrics, soulful vibe, vintage sound and Haley’s divine voice all mix together to make this a retro wonderland of a tune.

It’s Classic Haley in the making! Purchase “Don’t Know How To Love You” on iTunes and watch the music video now (brilliantly directed by Joshua Shultz with vision and art direction by Haley herself):

 

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“Revamp”: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Sir Elton John is an iconic music creator who has penned a great number of hits such as “Bennie and the Jets”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”, and “Your Song”. Plenty of artists have covered his tunes, from household names to Youtube stars and reality show contestants. In the newly released Revamp album by Virgin EMI Records, thirteen Elton songs get a modern update with brand new interpretations by today’s top artists and bands like Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, Alessia Cara, The Killers, Ed Sheeran, Florence + the Machine, Demi Lovato and Coldplay.

What you can expect from Revamp is its current sound – very 2018 but still listenable, nostalgic and recorded with respect to Elton’s greatness. In its entirety, the record would be a wonderful, acceptable introduction to his songbook for today’s younger generation.

1) “Bennie and the Jets” – Elton John/Pink/Logic
An interesting collaboration that results in an urban pop cover. I would’ve suggested a bonus track with a “Bennie” that features Haley Reinhart who shot to stardom with her jazzy version on Season 10 of American Idol. But this one makes an exciting intro.

2) “We All Fall in Love Sometimes” – Coldplay
Very nuanced and atmospheric. It delivers the album’s very first musical moment. Coldplay is always a pro at making any cover worth your money.

3) “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” – Alessia Cara
This is one Elton tune that’s perfect for Alessia’s voice and style. It happens to be one of my top favorites.

4) “Candle in the Wind” (2018 Version) – Ed Sheeran
Mr. Sheeran was born to sing this dedication and farewell to Lady Diana. A very genuine interpretation.

5) “Tiny Dancer” – Florence + the Machine
Absolutely dreamy and inspiring. My top favorite track within the record. It’s as magnetic as Sir Elton’s original version.

6) “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” – Mumford & Sons
Folky and authentic, Mumford & Sons knew how to give this song their own twist.

7) “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” – Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige has been successful in giving “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” a new sound. It’s as fresh as ever.

8) “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” – Q-Tip feat. Demi Lovato
A marvelous duet that keeps me coming back for more. It feels like a brand new tune with the reggae influence in the intro and verses, but then the chorus takes us back to that nostalgic moment, which makes it so great.

9) “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” – The Killers
Easily one of my favorites after “Tiny Dancer”.

10) “Daniel” – Sam Smith
It’s a song fitting for Sam Smith and his soulful, velvety vocal.

11) “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” – Miley Cyrus
Miley truly delivers in this powerful Elton classic. Very sincere, very authentic.

12) “Your Song” – Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is a master at interpreting iconic songs, and her take on “Your Song” is truly a gift that we can all cherish, just like the original. Simply timeless.

13) “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” – Queens of the Stone Age
The best song to wrap up the album. Very solid version.

On repeat: “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters”, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”, “Your Song”, “Candle in the Wind”, “We All Fall in Love Sometimes”.

Click here to purchase Revamp on Amazon.

American Idol Season 1 (ABC)

ABC has brought back American Idol two years after its cancellation on FOX. The phenomenon that preceded other TV singing competitions is all-new and improved with fresh talents and a positive vibe. Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan – this first season’s trio of judges – not only have great dynamics, but also a strong, genuine interest in what each contestant bring. They pay close attention to all the singing and are very encouraging.

Given the super rushed schedule, tonight’s episode will wrap up the auditions segment, preparing the audiences for the Hollywood rounds tomorrow. To refresh, let’s take a look at some of the unforgettable auditions we have seen ever since the show’s March 11 premiere. Feel free to share your favorites too!

Does Idol deserve to stay another season? With such a positive direction, this competition serves as a reminder on the power of dreams, and dreams are always needed despite today’s grim political situations. So the answer would be yes. If you haven’t been tuning in, I encourage you to do so, and get ready to be inspired all over again. Spectacular talents and future stars await you.

LAINE HARDY

A high schooler with a cool, raspy voice and a bluesy rock sound? Laine’s got it. You can immediately spot that recording quality in his vocals. It’s only right that he’s topping the polls on various Idol forums and sites.

BRANDON DIAZ

This Berklee guy is definitely one of my top male voices. Very soulful. Turns out he was on The X Factor and that I’ve seen a few of his Youtube videos once like “Say Something”. I’m very interested in keeping up with his career on Idol and beyond.

GARRETT JACOBS

Another one of my favorite. Such a unique tone and so much potential. Great singer-songwriter vibe. While blues is very fitting for him, I can see him doing well covering modern male artists like Shawn Mendes and James Morrison.

MARCIO DONALDSON

Super inspiring. Powerful story and a voice that’s tender and compelling, Marcio is one to look for. There’s an honesty in the way he sings, and if he keeps it up in Hollywood, he could easily soar into the finals.

CATIE TURNER

This girl is truly an original. With an adorably quirky persona and her self-penned songs like 21st Century Machine, she’s definitely starting a revolution, and we’re all here for a lot of Catie records. She could be the one! #hashtagcatie

MADDIE POPPE

Whimsical with a relaxing tone, she’s got magic in her voice that’s reminiscent of Sara Bareilles. The ultimate female singer-songwriter in this competition, she will bring a lot of freshness to the stage.

AMELIA HAMMER HARRIS

Very retro! With a lot of funk and energy in her voice and a NYLON-inspired fashion, Amelia delivers a lot of excitement and is bound to shake up the competition. It also helps that she’s the daughter of a music icon Jack Hammer.

MARA JUSTINE

Very impressive! Haven’t seen her on America’s Got Talent but she seems ready now with her massive voice. Her expression and enthusiasm really show, and she’d make a commercial recording artist.

LAYLA SPRING

She has a delightful sound. Bringing her little sister Dixie along, there’s an immediate warmth in her that draws you in. While she could benefit with more experiences, she’s got potential. The voice is definitely there, and so is her charm.

 

CALEB HUTCHINSON

 

He comes across as unique for a country artist. It looks like he also has a magnetic personality. His sincerity and love for country music definitely shows when he performs.

Breakfast Tunes

Mornings are made for breakfast.

Starting this January, I’ve made it a habit to rise out of bed by the time the clock strikes 6 if only for the inviting aroma of bread and butter (it’s more of a personal challenge, actually) and so far, I’ve been successful. But no matter what delicacies you start your AM with – croissants, English breakfast tea, muffins, orange juice, buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, grilled tomatoes, beef sausages, et cetera – light, playful tunes are bound to excite you and set you up for the day.

Let music be a savory treat for your ears. So pick a morning soundtrack and eat, listen and be jolly. No time to assemble your track list? Here are whimsical ideas you can steal for a relaxing musical breakfast. Mix them with your own for a personalized morning playlist.

Enjoy!

  • “”Jolly Holiday” – Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke (from Mary Poppins)
  • “It’s a Good Day” – Peggy Lee
  • “Good Morning” – Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor (from Singin’ in the Rain)
  • ”Isn’t This a Lovely Day” – Ella Fitzgerald
  • ”Boy in a Rock N Roll Band” – The Pierces
  • “Frim Fram Sauce” – Diana Krall
  • ”Chasing Pirates” – Norah Jones
  • “Lulu’s Pie Song” – Sara Bareilles (from Waitress)
  • “It’s a Wonderful World” – Joan Chamorro, Andrea Motis, Bobby Gordon & Sant Andreu Jazz Band
  • ”Mona Lisa” – Nat King Cole
  • “Another Day of Sun” – La La Land Cast (from La La Land)
  • “What a Difference a Day Makes” – Jamie Cullum
  • “A Wink and a Smile” – Harry Connick Jr. (from Sleepless in Seattle)
  • “Wonderful” – Idina Menzel and Joel Grey (from Wicked)
  • “In a World of My Own” – Kathryn Beaumont (from Alice in Wonderland)
  • “White Winter Hymnal” – Birdy
  • ”City Love” – John Mayer
  • “Goody Goody” – Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
  • “My Sugar is So Refined” – Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers
  • ”A Spoonful of Sugar” – Julie Andrews (from Mary Poppins)

 

 

 

2017 Highlights, 2018 Greetings

It’s here, it’s now, it’s 2018. Well, almost. Before I start my annual New Years Eve movie When Harry Met Sally (been enjoying brunch with some good friends and a cozy family dinner), allow me to present a brief list of my 2017 highlights. You’re welcome to share yours as well.

Happy 2018! 😀 Here’s to another year full of opportunities and adventures for all of us. #DreamBig

FILMS

  • Loving Vincent
  • Baby Driver
  • The Beguiled
  • A United Kingdom
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin
  • Lady Bird
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Coco
  • The Greatest Showman
  • Spiderman: Homecoming
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle

TV SHOWS

  • Reign: The Final Season
  • The Crown
  • Big Little Lies
  • The Orville

MUSIC

  • What’s That Sound? – Haley Reinhart
  • Baby Driver Soundtrack – Various Artists
  • Anastasia Broadway Soundtrack – Christy Altomare & Cast
  • Meaning of Life – Kelly Clarkson
  • Glory Days: Platinum Edition – Little Mix
  • Robin Hood Soundtrack: Disney Legacy Collection – Various Artists

NOVELS

  • The Last Tudor – Phillipa Gregory
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – J.K. Rowling
  • All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
  • The Land of Stories Series – Chris Colfer
  • Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
  • The Witches of New York – Ami McKay

“Robin Hood” Merch

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Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly what a day! Or year, in this case, for Robin Hood merchandises are finally making rounds in 2017.

Robin Hood is undoubtedly one of Disney’s most underrated films. A fine treasure that not many of today’s generation have watched besides me and a select few. Released in 1973, this classic envisions the tale of Robin Hood and his merry men with an all-star cast of animals as these iconic characters, giving the story a unique, whimsical flair while still capturing the essence of the original plot – stealing from the rich and giving back to the poor – and also the well-known setting of Nottingham, which is greatly animated, including the divine-looking woodland of Sherwood Forest. Robin Hood is a foxy hero, Little John makes a fun yet smart sidekick, Maid Marian is lovely and a kind soul, Prince John is ‘the phony king of England’, and Lady Kluck entertains me. This movie easily makes my Top 5 Disney list, and I’m more than thrilled that its merchandises are starting to be released.

Let’s take a look at all the merry things available!

SOUNDTRACK

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For the first time ever, the official Robin Hood soundtrack has been added to the Disney Legacy soundtrack collection and is now available to get on Amazon, the Disney Music store and other retailers.

The music of Robin Hood adds cinematic nuances to the film, and in a non-Disney fashion, stays true to the folky roots of the legend by keeping every musical number raw and country-ish with a deep storytelling focus. “Love” is one of the best love themes to have ever been penned (and should’ve been as well-known as the usual standards like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”), and songs like “Oo-De-Lally” and “Not in Nottingham” have a distinctive country tone that are easy on the ears.

All the film tracks and instrumental scores can be found in the 2-disc soundtrack along with a few charming early demos.

FAIRYTALES & FOLKTALES MERCH

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Stunningly crafted as part of the Disney Designer Collection – the Fairytales & Folktales series – Robin Hood and Maid Marian’s timeless “Love” scene can be revisited in the form of an adorable coffee mug, limited edition figures finely displayed in a glass box, and a journal (sold individually and as part of the Disney Designer Collection journal set). There’s literally only one word to associate them with: “Love”!

SOFT TOYS

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The UK Disney Store posted this photo on Instagram. Disney plush collectors would want to own these.

CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT

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With a gorgeous little ornament like this one, your holiday season is bound to be merry. And bright!

Spot other fab Robin merch? Share your findings in the comments below and let all of Nottingham (and the entire Disney fandom) know. All together now… “Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly what a day”!

Photo Credits: Disney

Lana Del Rey’s “Lust For Life”

After the masterful and darkly cinematic Born To Die, Ultraviolet and Honeymoon, Lana Del Rey returns with a brand new record Lust For Life. Her smiley face on the cover signals a more sunshiny set of tracks and a shift towards the positive without losing her signature.

Collaborating with respectable music icons like Stevie Nicks, A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd and Sean Ono Lennon, Ms. Del Rey once again delights listeners with her vintage vocal and songwriting talent.

Here’s a track-by-track commentary based on my first listen of the entire album. Nothing beats the joy and pleasure of a first listening experience, and with Lust For Life, nostalgic surprises are everywhere to charm the ears.

  1. Love” – “Love” is a lovely opener that evokes the sensation of being in a quaint English garden on a late afternoon. The ascending chorus brings forward an uplifting vibe… like a spring awakening.
  2. “Lust For Life” (ft. The Weeknd) – If divine intimacy has a melody, this song would be it. A wonderfully recorded duet.
  3. “13 Beaches” – Very cinematic it could easily fill the end credits of a perfectly crafted noir film.
  4. “Cherry” – Dark, mysterious and moody. Classic Lana. It has a Hitchcockian vibe with a hint of danger and an unsolved puzzle. Favorite part of the lyrics? My cherries and wine, rosemary and thyme/And all of my peaches are ruined.
  5. “White Mustang” – Has a hypnotic quality, especially in the repetitive chorus. Super impactful.
  6. “Summer Bummer” (ft. A$AP Rocky & Playboi Carti) – It captures the feel of her first album Born To Die and has the making of a post-party jam in the summer. Great mix of haunting melodies, the rap, eerie moments and dope beats.
  7. “Groupie Love” (ft. A$AP Rocky) – Single-worthy. This song has the magic touch. Gets me in a nostalgic mode with its dreamy Bohemian flair. It’s like a love letter to the hippie days.
  8. “In My Feelings” – Another powerfully hypnotic tune. One of my favorite tracks from the record. It definitely got me in my feelings.
  9. Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind – Also single-worthy. A Coachella story told through music. Whimsical tune with a narrative quality in the lyrics.
  10. “God Bless America – And All The Beautiful Women In It” – A special dedication to the beautiful ladies of America… and all females with an American heart and a fighting spirit.
  11. “When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing” – Given today’s political climate, this thought-provoking song from Lana is immensely needed. As emphasized in the lyrics, the best we can do is hold on to hope and strive for a happy ending.
  12. “Beautiful People Beautiful Problems” (ft. Stevie Nicks) – Two musical goddesses recording together results in a retro-inspired track that sounds amazing on both CD and vinyl.
  13. “Tomorrow Never Came” (ft. Sean Ono Lennon) – Simply timeless. A Beatles sound is to be expected. There’s a great degree of authenticity in it.
  14. “Heroin” – An exploration of a very dark subject matter. Flying to the moon again, dreaming about heroin… 
  15. “Change” – Very piano-driven. Perfect for a reflective moment. The lyrics grab your attention from the get go. After all, change is a powerful thing.
  16. “Get Free” – As a conclusion to the album, this track is a finely crafted epilogue. It’s like her commitment, and she’s doing it for all of us.

Jazz… Hot and Cool!

“Hot can be cool, and cool can be hot, and each can be both. But hot or cool, jazz is jazz.” – Louis Armstrong

Jazz. A relaxing night and day soundtrack. Soothing like syrup and honey. Fresh for the ears. Unlike La La Land‘s Mia, I heart jazz. My friends call me Jazzy Jules, as I happen to be the only jazz admirer in my circle. All my online usernames are jazz-inspired, from jazzy.avenue to jazzontherocks. In fact, an all-jazz CD from the Lazy Sunday Box compilation series that I picked up at a little record shop in Melbourne, Australia is keeping me company as I’m working on this dedication to jazz in the spirit of International Jazz Month.

I grew up with jazz, and it provided the first bits of inspiration for my adventures in music and songwriting. My experience began with the ultimate jazz queens like Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee and my all-time favorite Ella Fitzgerald, whose records I still play these days. I would also put on some Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole plus modern jazz greats like Diana Krall, Harry Connick Jr., Michael Buble and Renee Olstead. All jazz-inspired and Woody Allen films I enjoy, such as Midnight in Paris, When Harry Met Sally, Down with Love and Cafe Society. It was this appreciation for jazz that led me into taking Jazz Lab and Ensemble during my training at the California College of Music in Pasadena, CA (I was incredibly lucky to be mentored by one of jazz’s greats Dee Dee McNeil as well as SWITCH member and astounding soul artist Phillip Ingram who I’m still in touch with). And I’m now left thinking about my singer-songwriter career. In case it never takes off, I just want to be a jazz musician.

With the comeback of all things retro and a swinging band like Postmodern Jukebox that gives jazz a whole new spin, the future of jazz looks brighter than ever. In my opinion, jazz is much more vibrant than the classical genre. It’s adaptable, it’s built on improvisation, and it fosters collaboration and creativity within the players. Everybody is welcome to contribute to it and reinterpret a standard the way they want to. To quote Miles Davis, “Don’t play what’s there. Play what’s not there.” This is definitely the polar opposite of classical music and even musical theatre, where you’re supposed to stick to what’s written on the music sheet.

In jazz, every note is allowed to be sung or played differently, creating a new flavor along the way. There’s no right or wrong. It’s all about creating your own vibe in your performance. You can even mix it with other styles to create acid jazz, jazz-soul, acoustic pop-jazz, smooth jazz, French jazz, and so on. In Bill Evans’s own words, “You can’t explain jazz to anyone without losing the experience because it’s feeling, not words.”

And that, my dear friends and readers, is why I find jazz to be both hot and cool. Enjoy this international jazz month, everyone!

Here’s a list of delightful jazz tunes I keep returning to:

  • It Had to Be You
  • As Time Goes By
  • Mona Lisa
  • C’est Si Bon
  • Deed I Do
  • It’s Only a Paper Moon
  • Moanin’
  • Peel Me a Grape
  • Bluesette
  • God Bless the Child
  • Walking My Baby Back Home
  • Cruella DeVil
  • The Nearness of You
  • Sunday Kind of Love
  • Moonglow
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • If I Only Had a Brain
  • ‘Round Midnight
  • I Love Paris
  • Easy Living
  • I Wish You Love
  • Old Devil Moon
  • The Very Thought of You
  • Moon River
  • Witchcraft
  • Orange Colored Sky

Haley Reinhart’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” Now Certified GOLD

Songstress and F is For Family voice actress Haley Reinhart finally has a certified GOLD single with her lush, dreamy rendition of Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love. This divine, magical tune flawlessly displays the grandness of Haley’s vocals and has charmed listeners worldwide. It was also wonderfully used in an Extra Gum ad.

If you haven’t already, watch the commercial and download the song on iTunes. You know you “can’t help falling in love” with Haley again and again!

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